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How do you break an apartment lease legally in Arizona?

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A renter may legally break an apartment lease in Arizona if she is a victim of domestic violence or on active military duty, if the apartment is unsafe or if the landlord violates the tenant's privacy, according to Nolo. The right way depends upon each renter's personal circumstances.

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There are several circumstances whereby one is justified in breaking a lease in Arizona, Nolo states. One can break a lease if she's a victim of domestic violence, in accordance with the Arizona Revised Statutes, Section 33-1318.

A member of the armed forces may break a lease when embarking on active military duty, in accordance with the federal War and National Defense Service Members Civil Relief Act. The servicemember must give written notice to the landlord, then the tenancy terminates 30 days after the next rent is due, according to Nolo.

In the event that a rental unit is unsafe or violates Arizona's health or safety codes, a court may conclude that the tenant has been “constructively evicted,” which means the landlord isn't providing livable housing, Nolo states. There are specific requirements a tenant must follow and the law requires that it is a serious problem, such as no heat or other crucial service. These requirements are outlined in Section 33, clauses 1363 to 1365 in the state statutes.

If a landlord harasses a tenant or violates her right to privacy by entering the apartment without two days notice, changing locks, removing windows or turning off utilities, the tenant also is considered to have been constructively evicted, states Nolo. The tenant could then break the lease without any more obligations.

The University of Arizona's Student Legal Services recommends seeking legal advice before taking any action on breaking a lease.

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